So “Denzel whoop-ass” is such a huge draw that people don’t care if the 2014 version of it — Antoine Fuqua‘s The Equalizer — is maybe one-third as good as Tony Scott‘s Man on Fire, if that? It’s going to make $35 million this weekend, and that’s…somewhat depressing. Then again I’m no one to talk. I knew The Equalizer might suck (Fuqua is a low-rider) but like the schmuck that I am and always will be I went to see it anyway during the Toronto Film Festival. What’s the verdict from the HE gang? Surely most readers agree with me that it goes downhill fast after the first big violent bone-snap (i.e., Denzel vs. five or six Russian mafiosos).
From my 9.7 review: “The Equalizer starts out coolly and unpretentiously and in no big hurry for the action to start. Which is okay with me. I was impressed by the fact that Tony Scott‘s Man on Fire (’04), still the high-water mark for Denzel whoop-ass, delayed the inciting incident (i.e., the kidnapping of Dakota Fanning) until the 45-minute mark. That was radical (inciting incidents usually occur between the 20 and 25-minute mark) and, for me, exciting. So The Equalizer‘s somewhat similar approach felt right.
“The film is basically about Denzel bringing pain and death to a slew of bad guys. But I really need the action to be semi-plausible and that means Denzel has to be at least a little bit vulnerable, and I really don’t want the bad guys to just be heavily-armed, standard-issue muscle-bound jerkoffs, glaring and snarling and wearing the same beards and shaved heads and dressed in the usual black bad-guy apparel (black suits, black T-shirts, slick black boots).
“When I sat down late this morning I said a silent prayer: ‘Please, Movie Godz…I know this thing isn’t going to be anywhere near as good as Man of Fire…Fuqua peaked or got lucky 13 years ago with Training Day and it’s been downhill ever since…he’s a much sloppier, less exacting and energetic director than Scott but if The Equalizer could be almost as good as Man on Fire, I’ll be more or less content.’
“Well, it’s about a third as good, if that. After a fairly promising first half-hour or so The Equalizer goes crazy and becomes less and less believable the bodies pile higher and higher. Denzel kills a lot of bad guys here…15, 20, does it matter? Man on Fire‘s Creasy did almost the same thing, but he operated with stealth and discretion. Here Denzel is playing a one-man army who can’t be killed, and it just goes on and on and on. Very disappointing. Later. It’s really not even worth reviewing this thing. It’s just slick garbage. I don’t mean to be dismissive but…well, actually I do.
“In the words of HE commenter known as ‘The Filmartelist‘: “So in other words, Denzel kills more people in this one film than the true Robert McCall (Edward Woodward) did in the original TV show’s five-year run.”